Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday admires a lot of teachers...

Christina: Sounds like a good meal! And cooked abroad, no less. I’d steer toward sandwiches too : )

Cassie: Congratulations! I’m sure Matthew is roiling in fury. Yay! Also, I love your teacher heroes.

Alexandra: My girlfriend’s favorite movie is Equilibrium. Truly a good movie.

My heroes. Like Cassie, mine have, by and large, been teachers (and all have taught me something). I have been lucky in my schooling to have a great many incredible teachers and not so many crappy ones. (I just did a headcount, and I’ve had something like 130 teachers in my day. Holy crap.)

For me, heroes usually show me something about myself that I didn’t know was there before. One of my first was my tenth-grade English teacher, Mr. Osborne. I was used to slacking off and doing well, but he didn’t take any of my shenanigans. Playing games on my TI-83 during class? Not gonna fly. It was in his class that I started reading things that challenged me philosophically, and he and that class got the ball rolling on my eventual liberalization. I owe him a lot.

My eleventh-grade chemistry teacher, Ms. Bowers, is another hero, though I didn’t realize how much until years later. She was one of the first non-heterosexual people I ever knew, and she was one of the best teachers I ever had. She taught us to teach ourselves. And, while that was awesome, what I admire most about her these days is how much of a nonevent her sexuality was. She was out and open and talked about her family, her spouse, and her kids. I don’t know how I would go about finding her today (she no longer works for that school district, and I’m unsure about her first name), but if I could tell her anything, it would be to express admiration at a life authentically lived and students incredibly well taught.

When I got to college, one of my first professors turned out to be one of the most life-changing. My oboe professor, Dr. Leclair, was and is freaking incredible. She is a world-renowned oboist and, long story short, taught me that I didn’t want to be a musician. I cannot express my gratitude enough for this revelation. She showed me, through her own passion and incredible work ethic for her art, that I owed it to myself to find what I love. And I’m getting there. She is another authentic human being. I guess I have a serious admiration for authenticity.

I once took a class on grammar (surprise, surprise) that turned out to be geared toward future English teachers. I planned on skating through and pretending to want to be a teacher, but the professor, Ms. Aiken, was not satisfied with that. She actively encouraged me to tailor the course material to make the most out of it for myself. Clichéd though this is, she took learning outside the classroom. I learned a hell of a lot from that woman. As the course progressed, I went to Ms. A for help planning for graduate school. Today I count her among my friends.

I do have other heroes. My family is my foundation, my girlfriend is the light of my life, and various historical figures are freaking inspirational. But when I think of heroes, my mind automatically starts listing off teachers. And honestly, I don’t want to give you guys a TL;DR situation by listing everybody who ever gave me encouragement—though those names are many.

Other teachers worth mentioning: Mr. Woodman (high school biology); Mrs. Geisler (12th grade English); Dr. Gene Poor (entrepreneurship and innovation); Dr. Margaret Weinberger (sociological theory and anthropology); Dr. Marissa Wagner-Oehlhof (adolescent psychology and human sexuality); Mrs. Pugh-Blevins (high school counselor)

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